Three Minn. Democrats vote to approve Keystone XL pipeline

Three of Minnesota’s five U.S. House Democrats have voted to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The pipeline carrying Canandian oil to refineries on the Gulf of Mexico doesn’t run through Minnesota, but support for it became a political litmus test for both the left and right this election season.

Minnesota Democrats Rick Nolan, Collin Peterson and Tim Walz joined Republicans in supporting a bill that authorizes the pipeline and bypasses the State Department’s approval process.

Republicans have charged the Obama administration with slowing Keystone’s approval while environmentalists have fought hard to block the pipeline and slow the extraction of oil from tar sands in Alberta.

In a statement, Nolan said he backed the pipeline in part because it was a safer to transport oil via pipeline rather than by truck or rail car. The Senate is likely to vote on a similar bill next week.

Democrats Keith Ellison and Betty McCollum voted no on the bill, while all three Republicans — Michele Bachmann, Erik Paulsen and John Kline — voted in favor.